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Debbie Smith

Pattern Cutter

June 19, 2018 - June 19, 2018   

Location: The Factory, Fashion Enter, London


Debbie started her career at Mothercare/Conran design studios as a junior pattern cutter, however moved to Marks and Spencer head office design studios, where in addition to cutting and styling patterns, she developed company fit blocks for all ages and areas of infant and children’s wear for the various collections, helping pilot a new maternity collection.  She attended fit meetings and also later produced a piloted a new Maternity collection.

She was enticed away from M&S by manufacturer and supplier Richard Stump in 1979 where she worked with both buyers and the factories to produce patterns and garments to the requirements of customers within the limits of their factories.  From here she moved to Burton design studio where she and her team produced seasonal prototyperanges/ collections and catwalk shows to predict ”˜looks’ and ”˜themes’ for the buyersunder the umbrella of Arcadia Group, for both men and women, working on day, evening and tailored wear.  She managed the studio, ensuring the smooth running of the work to the team between designers and directors, pattern cutters, sample cutters and sample machinists and also supported junior pattern cutters many of whom she remains friends.  Her next challenge was being asked to set up an independent studio for Debenhams.

Her next move was to Country Casuals as pattern room manager. Her role was predominantly to cut patterns for the tailored elements of the collection as well as co-ordinate the workload of the studio. She visited factories with the garment tech team, travelled to Milan and Paris with directors and fabric buyers sourcing fabrics and attended fit meetings.

Debbie moved to Dorset with her kids and built her business ZIP UP Ltd, which provides pattern cutting to large and small companies including Austin Reed, Jaegar, bridal alterations for several boutiques and a couture tailoring/dressmaking service for garments ranging from lingerie/ swimwear to ball-gowns and suits, for both companies and clients including Royal Household members.

Additionally, Debbie teaches degree students pattern cutting and garment manufacture in Bournemouth Arts University.  On top of her higher education teaching experience, Debbie has also taught in primary schools as a technician and TA.

As a pattern cutter she prides herself on her high standards and is very fussy about fit, balance and comfort of clothing. She believes that if a job is worth doing, its worth doing properly.

Although Debbie has lots of experience in her craft she believes that nobody knows everything.  If a team shares knowledge with each other and has patience to nurture and respect those learning their ”˜craft’, all will benefit.  There is, and always will be, new ideas, processes to develop, learn and embrace – a problem shared is a problem halved.

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